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Epps epic in SEB win
Senior RB scores 5 times vs. Brantley
Southeast Bulloch's Tyler Epps gestures to a teammate after one of his five touchdown runs against Brantley County on Friday in Brooklet. - photo by ROGER ALLEN/Special to the Herald

    BROOKLET — Tyler Epps wasn’t crowned homecoming king at halftime on Friday.
    Maybe he should have been.
    Epps rumbled for 240 yards and five first-half touchdowns as the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets dominated pass-happy Brantley County 43-20 on homecoming Friday at Fred Shaver Field.
    Epps took a bulk of the first-quarter snaps with running back Antonio McMillan continuing to recover from an ankle injury suffered on Oct. 4 against Savannah High.
    “He’s having to carry a little bit of the burden right now,” SEB coach Pat Collins said about Epps. “We have some injuries in our normal backfield. I think he’s doing an exceptional job out there.”
     That’s an understatement.
    Epps came into the season with a running bet with his uncle, Drew Williams, as to whether or not Epps could score four touchdowns in one game. Williams did just that when he was a running back at SEB.
    Well, Epps scored four touchdowns in the second quarter.
    “I was like, dadgum, dude,” said Williams, who was in attendance at the game.
    Epps’ five touchdowns and 240 yards were both career highs, and his longest run — 75 yards — was also a career long.
    Epps said the team practiced extra hard to keep from being distracted during homecoming week, and it paid off.
    “Well, 75 yards is a long way to go on one run,” Epps said, “so I’m glad we worked on our sprints.”
    Epps wasn’t alone on offense. Keagan Carter, Matthew McBride and Michael Davis each rushed for at least 25 yards, and the Jackets (5-1-1, 3-1 Region 1-AAA) combined for 359 rushing yards on 45 carries.
Davis scored from 10 yards out during a running clock in the third quarter.
    “Everybody contributes in this offense,” Collins said. “It’s a ‘good citizen’ offense, that’s what I call it. Everybody chips in, runs the ball, blocks and fakes.”
    Brantley County (2-4, 1-2) looked to be in control early on.
    Both teams fumbled away their first drives, but after Brantley’s Lewis Warner recovered an SEB fumble on the 31-yard line, it took only a 26-yard pass from BCHS quarterback Anthony Turlington to James Morgan, and a pair of 1-yard runs by Turlington for the game’s first score.
    Keagan Carter blocked the extra-point attempt to leave the score 6-0.
    Turlington completed 14 of 27 passes for 181 yards in the game.
    Epps scored for the first time from 35 yards out, and Brantley pulled ahead 12-7 on a 1-yard run by fullback George Middleton to lead after a quarter of play.
    The Jackets chalked the slow start up to the homecoming distractions.
    “Between the first and second quarter we had a little prayer session right there on the sideline -- the whole operation from the coaches, managers, trainers, players, everybody -- and I think we were able to scare some things away,” Collins said. “I think we played a little better.”
    It was all Epps after that, as he carried the ball 16 times for 223 yards and all five touchdowns for a 36-12 halftime lead for the Jackets. His four touchdowns in the second quarter came on runs of 75, 17, 5 and 3 yards.
    Brantley was stopped before it started during the second quarter. The Herons saw two fumbles recovered by SEB’s Simba Fields and Michael LaSalle, and another drive end on sacks by Shawn Allen and Kaelin Jones.
    Alfonso Scott recovered a fumble late in the game, and Andrew Stancell intercepted a Turlington pass.
    The Yellow Jackets return to action on Friday against Beach at 7:30 p.m.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408